Paula Writes

Paula Puddephatt – Author

Blogging and Social Media: Why I’m Disillusioned — May 18, 2019

Blogging and Social Media: Why I’m Disillusioned

disillusioned

Before I discuss the problems I’m experiencing with blogging and social media, it’s important to mention that I’m also going through much more serious health and life problems, and have been at rock bottom.

This makes anything else that much more difficult to deal with, including the issues with my blog and social media – in particular, a technical issue relating to Pinterest.

I’ve had this blog since July 2017, and have a very small, but appreciative, following.

With a few notable exceptions, my family and friends are extremely unsupportive, when it comes to my writing. They don’t support my blog, or what I do on social media. It’s hurtful, but it is what it is.

But it does mean that I’m almost entirely reliant upon building an audience online. When I finally release my WIP and other books – here’s hoping – I certainly can’t rely upon any of the usual “guaranteed sales”. You know the jokes about only selling to your mum, nan, and brother? In my case, definitely laughable.

Still, other writers, in the history of time, have succeeded without support, and I’m determined to keep going, anyway. I believe in what I’m trying to achieve, through my various writing projects, and won’t give up that easily.

In terms of social media sites, the truth is, I’ve often felt that I’ve been spinning the wheels.

And lately, I’ve been struggling to do even that.

Some, such as Twitter and Instagram, have strong, positive writing communities, but in truth, they drive relatively little traffic to my blog. Not that that is by any means the only reason to participate in social media networks, of course – but, let’s face it, it’s a consideration.

Pinterest has been my favourite social media site, for some time now – whether you choose to classify it as a social media network or a search engine, given that it has definite features of both.

Pinterest tends to be positive, inspirational, and fun, and it’s definitely known, in the blogging community, as one of the best sites, from the point of view of increasing website views.

But a couple of days ago, Pinterest incorrectly marked my website as spam.

After searching around online, I finally managed to come up with an actual email address for Pinterest, which was easier to use than the website contact forms, with categories that seemed not to entirely fit my precise difficulties.

My account, in other respects, is still – touch wood – functioning fine. But I can’t Pin anything from my website, or attach a link from the site to any Pin, and neither can anyone else. Any of my Pins already in the system lead to error messages, stating that my website is spam.

Well, look around. This is a small blog, focusing primarily upon writing craft and related subjects. The content definitely isn’t spam. There aren’t ads or affiliate links, spammy or otherwise.

 

I’m hoping that the issue will be resolved soon, but it’s really set me back. I don’t have the heart to keep posting on social media, in general. It’s difficult to keep going with my WIP and other projects. I’m not giving up, but do feel seriously discouraged.

If you would like to support me, please share this, or any of my other posts, on social media – although you won’t be able to do so on Pinterest, until the issue is (hopefully) resolved.

 

My most popular posts include: my Character Names post, and How To Create Believable Friendships in Your Fiction.

 

23 May 2019 addition: My Pinterest related issue was resolved, a few days ago. 

Whilst I’ve no specific reason to believe I did anything to cause the problem, I’m currently taking a very moderate approach to Pinning – not more than a single Repin of any of my own Pins.

I’ve stopped posting on group boards, at least for a while. I’m not entirely sure what can trigger Pinterest’s spam alerts, and it isn’t worth the risk, in my opinion. But I might change my mind, in the future.

I’m also working out how to manage my social media more effectively, and spend less time spinning those wheels.  

Pinterest for Writers: Social Media and Your Author Platform — July 6, 2018

Pinterest for Writers: Social Media and Your Author Platform

pinterest-author-platform

So, let’s talk about Pinterest for writers.

On 13 June 2018, I was offline for most of the day, due to issues with my internet connection. And yet, when I subsequently checked my blog stats for that day, I noticed a significant spike.

The majority of the traffic came from my Pinterest account. And, since that happened, I’m getting more traffic from Pinterest, on a consistent basis, than from any other source.

Pinterest is awesome for creative artists, including writers, as it’s such an inspirational space.

It can have some advantages over time-consuming platforms, such as Instagram and Twitter. Forming personal connections is definitely fun, and important, but sometimes, it can take over, leaving very little time for actual writing. Not exactly ideal, right?

Pinterest is much more content focused, without the usual emphasis upon engagement.

So, what is Pinterest?

The answer lies in the name itself: a blend of the words “pin” and “interest”. It’s basically an online pinboard. Yes, as in, cork boards – noticeboards.

On a Pinterest account, you set up different boards, representing your different areas of interest. If you’re familiar with Google Plus, think in terms of Collections, because these are roughly equivalent to Pinterest boards. This analogy can be extended, because group boards on Pinterest resemble Google Plus Communities – but more about group boards later.

The usual way in which to “pin” is to capture an image from a website or blog. Pins can also be uploaded directly to Pinterest.

I had a breakthrough, very recently, when I learnt to use Canva, a website providing free – as well as paid – online graphics.

I had tried to use this site via my Hudl previously, but it’s best used on desktop, and runs more smoothly this way.

Through Canva, I’m easily able to create customised images for various social media sites, including Pinterest.

With Pinterest, images should ideally be vertical. There are also specific dimensions, which tend to work best on the platform. And I don’t know what these are, off the top of my head – but Canva takes care of all that for me. If you do want to know this information, it’s definitely out there, so just do a Google search.

I personally use my own photographs or artwork, and quote images, and only use Canva for the backgrounds, and to correctly size my images.

But I still haven’t adequately explained what Pinterest is.

Although it’s generally considered to be a social media site, it really isn’t, in the conventional sense. It’s more of a visual search engine. In many respects, it does fall somewhere between a social media platform and a search engine – and, in that way, can be compared to You Tube.

Because Pinterest is a search engine, keywords are vital to success on the site, just as they are on Google and Bing.

Pins tend to have a longer lifespan than posts on conventional social media sites, such as Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

It can also take longer to gain momentum.

There is much less focus upon follower numbers than on other social media platforms.

With the introduction of the “following tab”, however, it’s now easier to see posts specifically from accounts you follow.

Hashtags?

Technically, hashtags do work on Pinterest, and you can use up to 20 per post. However, they aren’t generally well-received on the site, and using 20 on a single post would definitely be considered “spammy”, by the majority of Pinterest users.

Using 1 or 2 hashtags, on a newly uploaded post, can apparently help its visibility.

Personally, I’m not using hashtags on Pinterest, at the moment. Keywords remain significantly more important, and these are generally sufficient to get your content found.

Schedulers.

The two main schedulers, specifically for Pinterest, are Boardboaster and Tailwind. Other scheduling apps, including Buffer, can also be used to schedule Pins. Personally, I’m moving away somewhat from scheduling social media posts, in general. I’ve never used any automation tools for Pinterest, so am not in a position to give specific advice. I would recommend doing Google or/and You Tube searches for both Boardboaster and Tailwind, and researching what each can offer.  August 2018 update: Boardboaster has recently closed down, so Tailwind is now pretty much the main scheduler for Pinterest.

If you’re interested in scheduling social media posts for other networks – specifically, Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus and Tumblr – I did write a post a while ago: How I schedule Social Media Posts. There is also a part 2 to this, giving further information, particularly in relation to Social Oomph.

This is a new area to me, but I have very recently joined a few Pinterest group boards.

These boards look similar, and operate in a similar way to, your own boards, but have multiple contributors, and often, many additional followers. They can be an excellent way to reach a much wider audience, with your content.

You can find group boards via pingroupie.com, or simply by browsing Pinterest. Look at the profiles of individuals and organisations in your niche, and you might find that they are members of group boards, that could be of interest.

Although, at first glance, group boards look like any other Pinterest boards, you can tell the difference, because they have multiple profile images in a circle. On other Pinterest boards, there will only be one image in this circle: that of the person or business, whose board it is.

When you do find a group board that interests you, read the information given in the board description. This can tell you whether or not they are accepting new contributors and, if they are, how to request to be added.

There will often be an email given, or sometimes, the group owner will ask you to message them through Pinterest. Just follow any instructions provided, and make sure that you follow the board itself, and the profile of the owner. That’s both good practice, and also makes the process smoother.

I’m aware that Pinterest group boards is a huge topic, but there’s so much excellent information out there – so, if this has left you confused, I definitely advise you to read articles that deal exclusively with Pinterest group boards. You should find some that will help on my own Pinterest related Pinterest board.  Yes, as in – a Pinterest board about Pinterest. Why not, right?

Oh, and it’s kind of obvious, but I’ll mention, anyway – that group boards only work if it’s reciprocal. Repin others’ content, as well as pinning yourself. And, when it comes to your own contributions – don’t overdo it. In addition to ensuring that you comply with any actual rules, use your initiative. Don’t post too many times in one day, or way more than the other group members.

 

I hope that this post helps somewhat. I highly recommend Pinterest for writers, in general – and would consider a Pinterest presence to be almost essential, currently, for those of us with author blogs.

The best way to learn about Pinterest really is to use it. Have fun with it. And hopefully, Pinterest will drive traffic to your blog.

My SEO for Bloggers and Social Media for Writers posts may be of additional value.

Find me on social media.

Social Media for Writers: Building Your Author Platform — February 1, 2018

Social Media for Writers: Building Your Author Platform

social-media-authorsAs writers, we should be building our online platforms.

 

In days gone by, there was no internet, let alone social media, and writers still managed to get their work out there. However, it was much more difficult to do so. Not to use social media nowadays, as a writer, would put you at a serious disadvantage.

 

The question is, where do you start?

 

There are so many social media networks now. Do you need to be on them all? I would say, definitely not. In fact, there are so many alternatives that it’s hard to imagine anyone, who wasn’t a celebrity, with a huge following already, being successful on every platform. And someone in that position would, almost certainly, have dedicated teams to manage their various social media channels. Hardly comparable to the position that most of us are in, when we’re just starting out.

 

Most of us will find our personal favourites, by trial and error.

 

The networks that you actually enjoy are probably, on the whole, the ones to go with. There are, however, some that do tend to be more useful for connecting with other writers, or people from particular target audiences, so it’s worth keeping those factors in mind. I’m still in the early stages, when it comes to building my own platform, but am definitely starting to discover which platforms work for me.

 

 

Although, in this post, I’m primarily discussing social media, I should mention that it’s important to have a home base.

 

By this, I mean a website or blog – an online space, to direct your online traffic to, other than social media. And, no – an Amazon sales page alone isn’t sufficient.  Aim to include as much evergreen content as possible, on your website or blog.

 

 

Personally, my primary channel is Twitter.

 

It’s definitely one of the best for writers, especially from the point of view of connecting with other writers. Post regular, quality content: a combination of links, writing and inspirational quotes, videos, and so on. Ideally, post a mixture of your own content, and that of others, in your niche, or related areas.

 

Definitely, make use of scheduling, as consistency is key with Twitter, but do also ensure that you make time to engage with others on the platform.

 

Checking in daily, or at least most days, will help, although it doesn’t matter, if you can’t always keep this up, as long as you remain active, via scheduled posts – and make the effort to engage, when you do go on.

 

And use hashtags. 1 to 3 per post is the general recommendation.

 

I currently stick with 2. 4 is borderline, but more than that, and your posts will tend to be regarded as “spammy”. But don’t miss out by omitting them altogether, as they help significantly with reach. I recommend using #amwriting or/and #writerslife, on most writing related posts. Others that I regularly use are: #writing, #writingforever, #writetip, and #poetry.

 

Then, of course, there’s Facebook.

 

With even more forthcoming changes, that will impact upon the, already limited, reach of our Facebook pages, many people feel that it’s no longer a viable channel. I personally believe that it’s advisable for writers to have Facebook pages, but not to rely upon them as a primary traffic source. That is, unless you’re in a position to run paid ads.

 

Facebook groups, on the other hand, are a different matter, and probably the way forward, for writers who want to remain active on the site.

 

They are certainly time-consuming but, as long as you love using Facebook, can provide that ideal space, in which to build a community. If you don’t fancy starting up your own group, it might be a good idea to join a few existing ones, and participate in those. My own group, Writing Forever, at the time of writing, is comparatively new, and welcomes new members.

 

Tumblr, a very visual site, has a strong writing community.

 

Poetry, and writing and inspirational quotes, are popular. Tumblr drives very little traffic to my blog, but I find the site inspiring and enjoyable to use, and have received positive feedback on my posts.

 

Hashtags are effective on here, but not exactly the same ones as on other sites, such as Twitter.

 

Try #writing, #lit, #prose, and #poetry. I don’t know whether this is true or not, but I’ve heard that only the first 5 tags register on Tumblr’s search facilities. Beyond that, they only function to search within your own Tumblr page. I tend to use 2-4 tags on Tumblr. I do also find the queueing system – mentioned in my social media scheduling post – invaluable.

 

Google Plus – now, this is an interesting one.

 

In general, people tend to dismiss it, but actually, I really like it, and think that it’s worth taking just a little time to investigate this network. If nothing else, because it’s part of Google, and being active on here does appear to help somewhat with SEO.

 

If you have a Google account – which anyone who has a You Tube channel, or Blogger site, does – you automatically have a Google Plus page.

 

It doesn’t take much effort to update it, now and again.

 

Hashtags do work on Google Plus, but this platform tends towards descriptive, “does what it says on the tin” tags.

 

Many popular Twitter tags don’t work at all. #Writing, #fiction and #poetry will get you further than #MotivationalMonday. Sometimes I do end up using Twitter hashtags, simply because I send a percentage of posts via Buffer to Twitter, Facebook and Google Plus, simultaneously. However, when I post specifically on Google Plus, I opt for more generalised tags.

 

My main advice for using Google Plus successfully is to set up Collections, on topics of interest.

 

These are similar, in a sense, to Pinterest boards – and I’ll talk about Pinterest, in a moment. Collections are shown to other Google Plus users, and you can potentially end up with additional subscribers to individual Collections, who may not even follow your account, as a whole. They’re probably one of the best ways to get your posts seen on the site, and so easy to set up.

 

Communities may also help, but these are equivalent to Facebook groups, and potentially more time-consuming.

I don’t really have enough experience to comment upon their benefits or otherwise, but they may be worth exploring.

09/10/2018 update: I was sad to learn that Google Plus is apparently closing next year, as a consumer website.

 

I more or less ignored Pinterest for years, but lately, I’ve become obsessed.

 

I’m building my Pinterest boards, and learning more about the platform via various blog posts and You Tube videos. And yes, You Tube is awesome, and coming next on my list.

 

As for Pinterest – well, I’m exploring it, and loving it, but am very much in the early stages.

 

It’s more of a visual search engine, rather than a conventional social media site, and I’ve heard amazing things about Pinterest, for driving website traffic. That said, I’m not using any sort of scheduling, Boardboaster or Tailwind, and haven’t got into group boards either, so can’t advise on any of that.  August 2018 update: I still pin manually, but should point out that Boardboaster has recently closed down. I do now have some experience with group boards. My Pinterest post elaborates.

 

July 2018 update: See my recent post about using Pinterest, as part of your author platform.

 

You Tube, as I mentioned, is awesome.

 

I watch many You Tube videos. I comment on a decent number. What I don’t do is to make them myself. Well, I did upload a couple, towards the end of 2017. Short clips of our pet cockatiels. But honestly, if you’re confident enough to make writing videos on You Tube, go for it. You Tube also, in common with Pinterest, has the bonus of being a powerful search engine. It’s a great platform for writers – probably one of the best. It’s also an excellent resource for research.

 

So, how about Instagram?

 

Or Linked In, Snapchat, Reddit, Stumble Upon – and all the others I’ve missed? Basically, yes – you can use any of them, as a writer. I simply can’t advise on them, because I lack experience on the platforms.  That said, I’m becoming more active on Instagram right now.  Oh, and I’m also on Flickr – although not on my original account, which I’ve unfortunately been unable to access, in recent years.

July 2018 update: See my recent Instagram for Writers post, as I do now regularly use Instagram, as part of my author platform.

 

There are so many options out there. Hopefully, you will find at least one or two that work for you.  Also, do take a look at my post about how to build your author brand. And there is now a new Social Media for Writers 2019 post, which may be of interest.

 

Keep believing.

 

Find me on social media.

 

 

Facebook Changes, Pinterest, and All Things Social Media — January 19, 2018

Facebook Changes, Pinterest, and All Things Social Media

facebook-changes

This is an update to one of my posts from December 2017, in which I discussed some of my thoughts about Facebook pages and groups, going into 2018.

It turns out that I was being too optimistic about the possibility of organic growth on Facebook, certainly in relation to business/fan pages. The forthcoming changes to the newsfeed could effectively mean that most of us will soon reach none of the people who have “liked” or/and followed our pages: literally, none. To be honest, at times, it isn’t far off that already, for many of us.

I set up my groups, Writing Forever and Music Forever, towards the end of last year, and groups are definitely the way forward on Facebook, as far as I understand it.

Other than posts from friends and family, and paid ads, it could be the only way in which to reach our audiences, in the future.

In terms of scheduling, about which I have already written a post, and a part 2, it may become almost pointless to use schedulers such as Buffer, for Facebook posts.

I currently use a combination of Buffer, Facebook’s native scheduler, and some real time posting, and would consider using Facebook’s own schedulers entirely, if that would increase my chances of people actually seeing my posts. I’m not sure that it will, from what I’m hearing. For now, my posts that are going via Buffer to Twitter and Google Plus anyway, might as well continue to go to Facebook, as I get very little reach on the posts – but still, something.

It is also unclear whether, in the future, posts will be seen by our friends, when shared via our fan pages.

At the moment, sharing to our Timelines can help somewhat. I’m hoping that this will continue to be the case.

Whilst I feel disillusioned about yet more changes to the Facebook algorithm, which don’t appear to be ones for the better, I will always seek positive solutions.

I hope to focus upon building a community via my groups, although I do tend to be inconsistent on social media, due to having multiple projects, and struggling with health and personal problems. I’m also completely neglecting my novel. I need to find the right balance: an ongoing challenge.

Lately, I’ve been exploring Pinterest, and this could well become one of my main social media channels.

Twitter will probably always be my favourite, the one that I return to, but I’m definitely feeling inspired by Pinterest, and continue to enjoy Tumblr and Google Plus, as and when.

September 2018 update: I’ve made significant progress with Pinterest, since writing this post.  See my Pinterest for Writers post.

Going back to the subject of Facebook – if you do “like” any or all of my pages, please consider adjusting your settings to “See First”.

It’s an option, listed on the drop-down “Following/Notifications” menu, at the top of the page. You’re significantly more likely to be shown my subsequent posts, and I would really appreciate the support. It makes a difference.

Find me on social media – via this post, which includes links to my various profiles and pages. I’ve updated this, to include links to my Facebook groups, and my Pinterest profile.

For quick reference, my Facebook pages are: Paula Puddephatt – Author, Vibrant Darkness – Poems by Paula, and 80s/90s Music.

Keep believing.

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